OK Crush Pad turns 2! More Okanagan wines to be raised in concrete

Concrete tanks at OK Crush Pad. Photo by Lionel Trudel.

One of our favourite stops now on our Okanagan wine travels is to see the progress at Okanagan Crush Pad (@OKCrushPad).

In June 2012 we got our first up close look at their Summerland, BC facility, and have made several stops since. Last August we were given an exclusive tour of the Garnett Valley property that OK Crush Pad plans to plant vines on, which we’ll discuss in more detail here on the blog. One of the attractions of OK Crush Pad wines is their use of concrete tanks. They’ve even made it a tourist attraction, as indicated in this tweet.

We only saw the preparation for several new, larger concrete tanks that were to be installed in the facility (at the time they were concerned about how they would get them through the door!). Now as you can see by the photo above, the tanks are there and ready to produce new wines. We got the word that Okanagan Crush Pad was celebrating its second birthday, and we thought we’d share the news.

More Concrete Tanks for Okanagan Crush Pad

Old practice made new again bears wines ‘Raised in Concrete’

Okanagan Crush Pad Winery (OCP) just celebrated its second birthday at the end of September. To celebrate, the winery received a very heavy package, just in time for 2013’s harvest.

Six 4,400-litre concrete tanks, weighing a total of 39 tons, arrived from Italy to join six 2,000-litre black egg-shaped concrete tanks that the winery purchased from a supplier in Sonoma in 2011.

The new tanks had a long journey, which started at the Nico Velo factory in Vicenza, Italy, before arriving at their ultimate resting point in Summerland, BC.

Nico Velo, established in 1943, makes all types of concrete prefabricated structures, from bridge columns to wine tanks, and offers first class workmanship.

The decision to purchase the concrete tanks from Nico Velo came at the urging of Okanagan Crush Pad’s consulting winemaker, Alberto Antonini, who uses the same tanks at his Poggiotondo winery in Tuscany, and is very impressed with the results. OCP winemakers Michael Bartier and Matt Dumayne concur with the idea of using concrete fermenters. Concrete had been used for centuries in winemaking, but was more or less abandoned with the arrival of stainless steel. These modern day concrete tanks take a forward-thinking approach to the old world practice.

OCP winemakers Matt Dumayne and Michael Bartier  - Lionel Trudel Photo
OCP winemakers Matt Dumayne and Michael Bartier – Lionel Trudel Photo

“Okanagan Crush Pad is my first experience using concrete tanks, and I am very impressed with the results. We now have just over 38,000 litres in concrete tank capacity,” notes Dumayne. “They have excellent fermentation kinetics such as temperature retention. The conical shape of the tank moves the fermenting juice around in a vortex, which produces wines with enhanced depth, complexity and roundness of tannins. We have found that the resulting wines have a complexity and an enhanced creamy mineral character.”

To date, Okanagan Crush Pad has made and released several wines that were fermented and aged in concrete, including the 2011 and 2012 vintages of the Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris and the recently-released and much anticipated 2011 Haywire Canyonview Vineyard Pinot Noir. These wines were made in Canada’s first temperature controlled egg-shaped concrete fermenters. Each wine that was created in concrete carries the “raised in concrete” trademark on the front label.

Okanagan Crush Pad Winery, located in Summerland, BC, is home to Haywire and Bartier Scholefield wines, and also makes wines for other BC vintners who are seeking to establish their own wineries. Haywire wines are directed by winery owners Christine Coletta and Steve Lornie, while Bartier Scholefield is a collaboration between OCP’s chief winemaker Michael Bartier and Scholefield family member David Scholefield. The winery team focuses on crafting natural wines that are pure expressions of the vineyards they were grown on. The winery is open seasonally June 1 to September 15 and by appointment off season. For more information visit www.okanagancrushpad.com.